I absolutely love some of the conversations I have during my day. Yesterday, I was in a Chinese antique store I was marvelling at some of the stuff this lady had on display. This prompted a half hour conversation about Chinese antiques. Here are the highlights:
Me: This stuff is so cool. Where do you find it?
Owner: Oh, I buy it whenever it comes up for sale in the U.S.
Me: Interesting. Who is your main clientele? Do you sell mostly to individuals or museums and stuff?
Owner: I can't really sell to museums. They worry too much about the legal ramifications.
Me: Oh? How does that come into play?
Owner: Well...most of this stuff starts out on the black market and then works its way into the legal market through some loopholes.
Me: What?!? Wait. Why is it in the black market? Where does this stuff come from?
Owner: Oh, gets excavated and then it just makes its way out of China.
Me: Come on. I'm just an office supply salesman. Where did this stuff come from?
Owner: Ok. Most of it is dug up by graverobbers in China. I can't sell to museums because China has a law stating that anything taken out of their ground is legally theirs, so museums don't want to risk it.
Me: WHAT?!? You mean this statue I'm holding was taken out of someone's tomb by a graverobber and is here illegally?!?
Owner: More than likely.
Me: ...would you like to buy some toner?
Yes, she bought some toner from me.